Father's Day Message: A Few Good Men  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer

Fathers have such a great privilege. They are given the great responsibility to care for their kids and be a husband. However, caring for their kids covers a vast array of responsibilities. Some responsibilities may be elective, in that you as a caregiver choose to allow them to do something or participate in an activity. Whereas things like health, discipline, spiritual, and education should not be elective, just a "given."

Sunday we celebrated Father's Day. In the message, I challenged the men to stand in the gap, live their lives with the understanding of the responsibility that comes with the territory. Husbands need to be one of the "few good men" who will choose whom their family will serve.

In Ezekiel 22:30, Ezekiel challenges the men to volunteer and to stand in the gap. He wonders who will choose to respond to the challenge.

I think that God may always expect to see His people, specifically the men in this case, be ones who will stand in the gap of life to respond to the challenges set before them. To look for volunteers, not forcing anything to happen, hoping to see people just step up.

Will you be one of the few good men?

The Goodness of Where We Are  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , , , , , ,

What is a better time to celebrate than the present? When you start to add up all the blessings you have, you tend to appreciate life more and more.

The past has already happened, so to bring it to the future is only carrying unneeded baggage. This is usually easier said than done, especially when some of the past baggage is emotionally attached. I have negative memories of my childhood that I can remember pretty vividly. What I have found is that those memories may come with me, but how it affects my future depends on me. I can decide if it will permeate into other areas of my life or try to release it and go on with life.

This has been a struggle at times, but it helps to leave the baggage in the past and move on with the future, appreciating the present. That brings us to this week's quote...
Life is indeed grander than ever, when we take the time to understand every bit of the goodness that exists right where we are. ~ Gigi Galluzzo
Have you ever been in search of something and it be right in front of you, literally? I have and it kind of makes you feel like a fool, momentarily.

That is similar to how we should react to life when we are caught looking backward and forward and not appreciating the present. Time is something you cannot take back. It is here for the moment but then it is gone. Moments add up to be minutes which add up to be hours. Hours add up to be days which add up to be weeks. Weeks add up to months which add up to years. To drift from one to the next can create losses in life.

May you take the time to enjoy the present. This made me think of losing a friend recently to a fatal motorcycle crash. He and his wife (or anyone) did not have the opportunity to have "final words" together. They didn't know that hours after they said goodbye that he would be gone.

Appreciate the present, you never know how much future you will have in this world and/or with someone!

Now it's your turn...What do you most appreciate about the present?

There have been a few times in my life that I was working on a project and something started to go wrong. It could have been a screw head was starting to strip to left over parts to pieces not fitting properly. The project may cosmetically look correct, even be structurally sound, but not ideally be put together.

When constructing those projects, frustration followed because of the lack of fluidity in the construction process. Sometimes pushing or pounding harder has been the result. Sometimes these methods worked. Sometimes it made things worse. Sometimes it simply didn't make a difference.

When it comes to some people's religious views and/or their faith, there are instances where they may feel they are putting a square peg in a round hole. They may become frustrated because the square peg doesn't seem to work out the way they think it should. In frustration, they want to keep trying to put that square peg in that round hole. One of three things will happen as a result: 1) The peg will splinter and make it through, 2) the peg will not fit, or 3) the peg will break and splinter but not fit. This is somewhat the result with one's faith, with the analogy of the square peg.

As Sunday's lesson was about Jesus answering the question of John's disciples from Matthew 9:14-17, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...

  • Splintered ~ When you are involved in a religious controversy, you may have an inclination to want to be right. If that desire to be "right" becomes too big, you will simply fight and fight so that the result is what you desire. However the result can be a splintering - that of relationships. Causing these relationships with people or God to never be the same. Not good to force an issue...
  • Not Fit ~ Trying to force an issue for the sake of getting the issue, and then it never "fitting" will definitely result in failure. When I think of something that should be right but it never fits correctly, I can become pretty frustrated in the moment. Later on I will mellow, but in the moment is a whole different story. As we have the option to be flexible in a situation, may we try not to force things and let God handle the things that we cannot control.
  • Break and Splinter ~ Continuing on the thought process, forcing an issue through a round hole may cause the peg to splinter off and break. This will look like someone trying to push their agenda on a particular area and things get worse. The result is detrimental to the individual and many around them. They can force an issue so much this result will cause lots of problem.
May we think about what we are encountering in life as we need to be flexible with the new wine that is added into wine skins - make sure the wine skins are new, as well.

Now it's your turn...What have you encountered that was difficult for someone to remain to be flexible with something new, so they don't have to "burst?"

See It Before It Happens  

Posted by Jarrod Spencer in , , , , , , , , ,

I have been doing a lot of painting on windows over the past few months. It has been something that has allowed me to use my talents and has opened the door to be able to share my faith. When I start a painting, I must visualize what it is going to look like. I also must try to keep it to a certain scale.

One secret that I’ve learned in art that I would pass on to anyone, is that I don’t try to draw or paint a specific object. I try to paint shapes or lines that eventually become an object. I treat letters, flowers, faces, or whatever else I am working on in a painting as its own separate shape. I have learned this takes the pressure off of objects trying to look like something specific. In the end, that object comes out looking like it, but it is because I have matched up lines, etc. to allow it to become the two-dimensional object it ends up looking like.

Whether it is painting or goals, we must be thinking about it ahead of time so we know what we are to end up with in the end. That brings us to this week’s quote…
The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and actualizer, He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it, he sees exactly how to make it happen. ~ Robert L. Schwartz
Not all of us are “entrepreneurs” but we all have a goal in mind when we go to tackle a project. Be it cleaning out the garage, preparing a lesson plan, or painting on a window, to have a goal in mind, in the end is helpful to see what you are expecting to see in the end.

What goals/projects are you visualizing today? How are you going to make that happen?

Now it’s your turn…What have you had success in by being able to visualize it first and then seeing how it is actually going to happen?

"Look over there at that person, can you believe what they are wearing?" This is just a minor comment that can be phrased in a judgmental way, to introduce this writing.

It can be easy to become wrapped up in someone's talk or even your own thoughts. Just as enthusiasm is catchy, negativity is infectious. Complaining about something seems to be ever present in the lives of people.

Are you one that tends to be a victim of the "complaint snowball?" You start off with one thing, but the conversation just keeps going downhill, picking up complaints as well as speed? I know of people who would fall into this category. I've been there at times in my life and been caught up in their snowballs. There are several times that I have not allowed myself to be on the other side of the table in these situations. I complain or gossip instead of thinking what it is like to be in their shoes. As we discussed the calling of Matthew, from 9:9-13, here are some applications to choose from to use this week...
  • Envision ~ Imagine what it would be like to hear the comments you are saying. I am sure you've heard negative comments about you. How do they feel? If they are not pleasant, practice the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12 - treat others the way you want to be treated). I hope you do not say to yourself, "I had to hear it, they should too." That is a very petty excuse to put someone down.
  • Stop It! ~ When the "complaint snowball" takes off, be aware of it. Also, be the one to stop it. You may not even have to make it a formal, make-the-other-person-feel-bad, stop. Just deflect the conversation to something else. If you feel like sticking up for someone, go ahead and do that. Possibly, just by pointing out something positive, they will get the point (maybe not). I've tried this and had the person say, "But you know, Jarrod, _____" and they just go back to complaining. You may have to be persistent!
  • Be Sympathetic ~ It is easy to look on the surface and judge someone. Unfortunately, we are often at a disadvantage about knowing what has happened to them prior to you seeing them. Be it something immediate, like being late, they could have had some real issues that caused them to not show up on time. Maybe cut them some slack before you judge their tardiness.
Take some time to sit on the other side of the table and see what it is like to hear or see the comments, jeers, or looks that come your way.

Now it's your turn...what have you learned from being on the other side of the table?